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Post People: Empowering Barking and Dagenham’s disabled to help themselves

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 April 2017

Skye has spent most of her adult life raising money for good causes and helping disabled people in Barking and Dagenham Picture: Skye Sandhu-Nelson

Skye has spent most of her adult life raising money for good causes and helping disabled people in Barking and Dagenham Picture: Skye Sandhu-Nelson

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Skye Sandhu-Nelson, 37, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates how she went from homeless teenager to empowering disabled people as project co-ordinator at the Independent Living Agency

“I started in the voluntary sector 14 years ago. I’m one of those people who can’t work for corporations, I like giving and seeing positive outcomes of good work.

“I became homeless when I was 19 and spent two years sleeping on an air bed in my council flat. I ended up buying that flat and selling it to move to a bigger place where I now live with my husband and four kids and another one on the way. I was helped out of my situation by a lot of people along the way so I feel I need to give something back.

“I’ve been working at Barking and Dagenham’s Independent Living Agency for four years. We support disabled and elderly people across the borough, helping them access services and projects that help them with their day to day lives or getting back into work.

“Our Peer Support Brokerage service empowers disabled people by making them accredited carers, so they can help others with care needs.

“It’s about disabled people helping one another plan their support, based on the Care Act, which was implemented so that people can request the care budget they’re entitled to and use that to taylor their care to their needs, instead of just accepting any old plan.

“This might include leisure activities like golf and gardening, or it might be helping them into employment.

“One of our peer support brokers works helping people living in warden-controlled flats and, instead of just giving them four hours of care in the morning, he taylored the support to fit the client, by spreading it throughout the day during meal times, which was when it was most needed.

“People were fed up of being dictated to by social services, they’d rather get support from people like themselves.

“A lot of people aren’t aware this service exists and don’t know what they can and can’t access – we’re here to empower disabled people by helping them make new friends and assessing their needs.

“If anybody wants to access this support, or become a support broker, they can call me on 020 8593 6677.”

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